The Mount Synthesis
Field Notes for the Student of ENG140Y1:
Literature for Our Time
University of Toronto 2012-13 2
Prepared by Sean C. Allingham
WHERE AND HOW WAS I TO GO if not here? Just a waitlist category: number
52 out of a million, how many others want this course? But I can go no where
else. I will stand in the back. Linger. Like a shadow cast on the balcony
corner. Put a glass up to the closed door, just to glimpse through the ear the
refrain of literature’s song.
We are overflowing out the doors. But so many here are not like me,
only in that they want to leave this lecture hall, nothing more. Their courses
conflict. Their lives conflict.
Yes, Nick, I am searching for truth.
Are we post-modern? Post Modern Truth?
I did not come here in search of a better job. I came here in search of
better answers—not here for the institution. The university’s mandate is to
ensure its own survival, they will sacrifice anything for it, even us. The
university degree is not something that is necessary to live fully. Each of us
is capable of that. We are here for ideas, truth.
-Aristotle’s poetics—the historian = the poet.
-Shelly’s poetic morals make us better. “Defense of Poetry” 1840— the great
"poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world".
‘Every man in the infancy of art, observes an order which
approximates more or less closely to that from which
highest delight results...’ This ‘faculty of approximation’
enables the observer to experience the beautiful, by
establishing a ‘relation between the highest pleasure and
its causes’. Those who possess this faculty ‘in excess are
poets’ and their task is to communicate the ‘pleasure’ of
their experiences to the community…‘poets...are not only
the authors of language and of music, of the dance, and
architecture, and statuary, and painting; they are the
institutors of laws, and the founders of civil society...’ Social
and linguistic order are not the sole products of the rational
faculty, as language is ‘arbitrarily produced by the
imagination’ and reveals ‘the before unapprehended
relations of things and perpetuates their apprehension’ of a
higher beauty and truth (Wikipedia).
-Elaine Scarry: professor of English and American Literature and Language—
Professor of Aesthetics and the General Theory of Value at Harvard— On 3
Beauty and Being Just. Princeton University Press, 1999: “Justice cannot be
seen with the senses | because art appeals to our senses it is good for
-Art is better than facts for communicating abstract principles.
-Literature makes sense because our world is a story in progress.
-Alan Kirby Death of Postmodernism “Philosophy Now” online.
-Allan Bloom Closing of the American Mind
-Mark Bauerlein The Dumbest Generation. Last paragraph quoted in Lecture.
Literature as a Verb
Literacy is a form of social power
-The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock was originally criticized as “absolutely
the poem was a game changer— readers at this time thought Wordsworth
was “sane” poetry.
Prufrock was plainly spoken— not formalist.
Drawing from iambic pentametre | a natural cadence? The one that
resonates with us.
-Allusion vs. illusion.
-Only in the last hundred years has (high) art become difficult to understand.
Before it was art’s job to make things that are difficult easier to understand.
-Petrarch read words as a human. The basis of the enlightenment. The father
[side-note fro the taker of these notes: Mount portrays Wordsworth as a
safely-structured poet in his example of what “people before Prufrock”
considered poem-like. Yet compared with London Sept. 1802, WW is
anything but safe!]
Prufrock: The Mantra of Tortured White Men (think the loveable
Owen Wilson in Midnight in Paris) & Other Observations
-The Egoist periodical is considered "England's most important Modernist
periodical” and in 1917 publsihed Prufrock.
- Seeing Prufrock against Wordsworth’s sunset we come to notice that both
poets use a simile appropriate to their time. 4
evening etherized patient
IT is a beauteous evening, calm and free,
The holy time is quiet as a Nun
Breathless with adoration; the broad sun
Is sinking down in its tranquillity;
-The difference of vehicles in the romantic age vs. Eliot’s! In Eliot’s world the
sun has been extinguished, put out by science and modern medical
-Literature is an expression of the time that it was fashioned within.
-Eliot’s essay on freedom in art! Tradition and the Individual Talent | novelty
is better than repetition.
The dramatic monologue | the speaker of one time and place | the
The revelation of character through this form. We will see this
repurposed, used again and again. (Samson)
-Prufrock was finished in the summer of 1911 * prewar * but is often
understood to be a war poem— Which the Waste Land is.
-Eliot Studied philosophy
Apparently, “the only significant truths are private”. But this guy worked as a
banker, wrote the Waste Land while a capitol investor.
-Time Magazine reviewed Ulysses and the Waste Land in 1923.
-Folks were going mad for literature | Eliot packed a baseball stadium with
the largest literary event every held.
-Like Dali’s film. The eyeball is cut, this is shocking, yes, but like Prufrock it
begins with a quiet setting, a sunset, and then prematurely shocks us | the
slicing of the eyeball = the etherized patient.
This unsettles us, disturbs us, it gets us to see the world in a different way. 5
-Like the Dada exhibit “In Cologne, Ernst, Baargeld, and Arp launched a
controversial Dada exhibition in 1920 which focused on nonsense and anti-
bourgeois sentiments. Cologne's Early Spring Exhibition was set up in a pub,
and required that participants walk past urinals while being read lewd poetry
by a woman in a communion dress. The police closed the exhibition on
grounds of obscenity, but it was re-opened when the charges were dropped.”
Eliot: “ the spectacle of Europe committing suicide” | The world was
changing and art had to keep up.
Throat Clearing: An Essay Topic
Prufrock is abundant in pop-culture. It appears in songs, in film; it is often depicted in street-
art, murals, tattoos, in all urbanscapes abound. Its effect on us is, still to this day, needing to
be searched for and found. An essay to lay this out! To show its continual relevance. And
could it perhaps be true that its lasting impact on the artists and critics of today’s world has
something to do with the fact that the poem was published as the first free-verse poem to
become popular, and that this took place at the same time that art did its diametrical shift from
making the abstract accessible from the muddling of its subjects and confusing of art’s
appreciators…becoming harder to grasp… the more difficult (higher) art is the better it is?
This shift took place at the same time as the publication of Prufrock. After WWI the world
had dramatically changed and art had to keep up. The world at war! How could things not
become more difficult and hard to explain! The World at War! The 180 degree shift in art’s
function. It began to challenge us. It challenged industrialization; it challenged modern
society. What has the function of art done to us, or more pointedly, what have we done to the
function of art?
The Waste Land
I used to get wasted but now I try to just land on my feet. Think of it World
And so unemployment was rampant especially among women. 10 Million are
This war…Sans glory | inspiration for artists? Post war Europe, all their
inspiration gone in destruction. 1920…after such knowledge…what? Trench
A collogue of borrowed lives | compare this to the stained glass window in
All different stories all broken. The meaning are to access, but does the
poem cohesively come together?
If we see the world as disordered, in ruins, then art will be too. But is it more
than imitated fallacy? 6
Unsettling -Picasso’s These artists
the mind to brothel do not want to
alter our -Dali’s razor The shock imitate—they
perspective blade & want to create
-Eliot’s patient Awe —a new world.
The Waste Land
Eliot’s undemocratic life and verse: not everyone can come along for the ride
The impersonal theory of poetry: the “unself” : Buddha “ a continual extinction
of personality | most defiantly not a romantic.
Individual consciousness, but collective universal one.
Yet do we see this extended to or evolved into pop-culture’s ritual— when to
clap, when to cry.
“At the advanced age of 70, Jessie Weston, who had spent decades immersed
in the Arthurian canon, wrote From Ritual to Romance to attempt to explain
the roots of the legend of the Holy Grail. She enumerates the seemingly
inexplicable elements of the quest--The Fisher King, The Wasteland, the Chapel
Perilous, and the Grail Cup itself--and ties them to the symbols and initiatory
rites of the ancient mystery religions. She also attempts to identify the author
and locality of the tale. Her thesis still inspires heated controversy among
academics. It is also claimed that T.S. Elliot's The Wasteland was based on this
book, although this has been questioned.” Yet Eliot’s own notes sate that “the
plan and a good deal of the incidental symbolism” come from Weston’s book,
and that he is “deeply indebted” to it.
“A 434-line modernist poem by T. S. Eliot published in 1922. It has been called
"one of the most important poems of the 20th century." Despite the poem's
obscurity—its shifts between satire and prophecy, its abrupt and unannounced
-The old stories are told under the modern one. In the case of the Waste
cLand is an epic told in just over 400 lines.egiac but intimidating summoning
In clarifying in the poem, something is brought in that has existed before |
allusion opens | metaphor closes | it condenses.
“I must borrow every changing shape to find expression”
Portrait of a Lady
Bathetic vs. Pathetic
Bathos, βάθος, (meaning depth) is an abrupt transition in style from the
exalted to the commonplace, producing a ludicrous effect. While often
unintended, bathos may be used deliberately to produce a humorous effect.
If bathos is overt, it may be described as Burlesque or mock-heroic. It should
not be confused with pathos, a mode of persuasion within the discipline of
rhetoric, intended to arouse emotions of sympathy and pity.
Tiresias has seen it all— He unites everyone.
What is ironic about Eliot, the modernist poet, is that he likes the old stories
Is the Waste Land really about cultural death?
We know of Biblical allusions, Ezekiel speaks.
There are heaps of broken images | folks after the war, clutching their
cultural and literal wasteland
A loss of ecology
God is speaking? Seeing something other than ourselves that we recognize
What is the point of opera if no one will appreciate it?
“Tom & Viv” The rather unhappy marriage. Sickness took hold. A letter to
Ezra Pound lists the symptoms. There could be flowers clustered together,
they give off a sweet aroma | you used to give them to me, but now, why
bother? Our love and light is no longer there.
There is nothing left but dust. And it is just as scary as the war the preceded
Tiresias has gallivanted about with the gods and is now reduced to this, the
Prufrock world, the Waste Land.
Though fragmented, the recurring allusions provide a deep structure for Eliot
-A lament & celebration: this story is like others. This story is.
Where in lies pleasure, if we don’t know the allusions? We are tested by 8
Prufrock, by the Waste Land; you will know it, if you get it, you’ll know the
tradition whose death hears the elegy. This poem selects its audience—there
is pleasure in recognizing allusions. One has to cross difficult lines to get to
-It is the windows in history that tell us how to see them.
William Epson said of Eliot: “I do not know how much of my mind you
“DA” speaks the creator
The Waste Land
seeing the future | wanting to die
the loss of a shared culture | in fragments
I. The Burial of the Dead
April is the cruelest month because the world that is awoken in spring will
only come to die again.
Winter keeps us warm in forgetting. Before when a child. Before the war,
when people we happy.
God speaks through Ezekiel. And what will shake us from this state?
Wagner opera: this is dust. Where you see nothing, I will show you fear.
The Fisher King is sacrificed.
These folks couldn’t even get into hell. Reader, my double, my brother.
There is no salvation: in church, in art. The profits see all things that are bad.
This story has been told for centuries. The binary opposition. The poetics of
II. A Game of Chess
The pastime of the bored intellectual. We see the different socio-economic-
states of the characters in the wasteland, while Shakespeare’s Cleopatra is
the ancestry of Eliot’s present.
The Prufrock world; the sitting room, the waiting. This was the generation
that fell for Freud.
Re-entrance of the soldier into civilian life. The working man’s piece. This
post World War scene. We have been reduced to this: false teeth and
abortions. Shakespearian rags and Marvell are only good for pop-songs and
under the modern pavement of modern cities.
III. The Fire Sermon
Fall has arrived. And so has acne.
IV. Death by Water 9
Moving along in the elements and I have no idea what to say other than
drowning would suck.
Eliot himself has no notes for this section.
V. What the Thunder said
From the Upanishads “da” the word itself the grail, the power, but three
interruptions to follow. Demons hear | control yourself | god hears| this
passes understanding, passes understanding. It can only be experienced, not
To The Lighthouse
The decent of plot | an invention that does not exist in art.
The narration of events as seen in consciousness.
We move through the house—quite consciously, by changing perspectives.
There is no introduction to her characters | multiple impressions come to the
reader | we must sort it out for ourselves. Like Eliot, like Picasso’s Les
-Reflections like fragments-
Blocks joined to the lighthouse
by a corridor
We see this in Woolf’s
fleeting impressions on solid structures: Lily paints, Woolf writes. pg75
A long epic poem on which the fate of civilization rests. We see the bones of
the epic genre here, but they are revitalized for her time and place.
The Epic & Woolf’s novel share these traits
1. beginning in the middle. A wife and her husband argue, like the
argument at the beginning of the Iliad, [Troy] The king and his warrior
2. written in a serious (high) style The Homeric or epic simile: “As her
father was dying there in Switzerland” Typical Homeric simile makes a
comparison to some kind of event. The object pf comparison is usually
something ordinary and familiar. The Iliad contains many such similes
comparing fighting warriors to lions attacking boars. 10
3. The setting of the poem is vast: Whole world/underworld | To these
characters, their summer home is the whole world. Cam, Constantinople/ Lily
the lawn is the world.
4. Super human deeds: knitting a stocking! The great journey. Nostoid,
the Greek homecoming stories= nostalgia, journey back from pain. The ten
year gap in time, same as Odysseus wife is weaving a tapestry…Mrs.
Ramsey. Young men surrounding her like the wife of Odysseus pg 12-13/110,
5. Gods take an interest in the actions. They laugh at Tansly because
he “says” he’s an atheist. No shit. Post WWI, everybody’s an atheist.
6. The figure is a great figure of importance. As Mrs. Ramsey is to her
family. Lily thinks the grail is inside her.
Woolf also uses Joyce’s model of Ulysses. She rewrote the epic, made it
domestic, focused on a woman: a critique of the epic | adding woman’s
voices to the genera, what was once men’s quarrels, men’s wars. Mr.
Ramsey reciting Tennyson’s war poem, almost runs over Lily painting his
own wife and son.
Our domestic lives are as worthy of literary treatment as wars are.
Bloomsbury remains in our minds. Modernism’s wash tub.
Eliot was know to show up at parties with his face painted green.
Mount reads the To the Lighthouse unconventionally, he sees it as a modern
epic. But, it is clear to all that the main social context of the novel is
feminism, suffrage, yet Woolf didn’t like the word very much. Her life was to
Central Preoccupations of Modernism
* The creation of new forms—breaking w/ established structure of the story
* New interest in interiority (of characters)
* Fragmentation: a multiplicity of
The Symbol: a sign
signifier signified 11
In literature is a word or phase that signifies something other than its literal
Culturally, public symbols are particular, their meanings can change.
The function: uses a particular object to express something other that itself
What of Shelly’s Symbol?
The Lighthouse: The way home, guidance, but also the threat associated to
it. Is this what we get from the novel? Is the lighthouse the holy grail.
Imagination: the lighthouse is what you see at the end of a good story, But
Woolf “meant nothing by the lighthouse”.
The change from the clear symbolic meaning to more ambiguous ones:
Melvill’s white whale
are harder to define then Dante’s white rose. The shifts in philosophical
thought, these sweeping grand symbols, are meant to be harder to pin down
—they’re meant for readers to make their own.
Impressionism 1910- post impressionist exhibit in Bloomsbury: what it means
by means of our emotions. Accurate perspective don’t matter. These folks
did on canvass what woolf did on the page.
-The traditional novel explains | Woolf’s novel only suggests.
Lily’s painting is pure suggestion—it is perfect in our minds
The inability to communicate, like Prufrock, at the dinner table they are all
looking for meaning locked in their own prisons.
Lilly wants for her painting what Woolf wants for the novel.
Mrs. Ramsey is her subject, not anything impressionist. Inside Ramsey is
Lily’s “da” of the Waste Land | There are sacred inscriptions at the top of the
No unexpected miracles. No Shanti, just the daily miracles. She looks to the
domestic space, and they are their.
In the Waste Land the answer is “Da”
In the lighthouse: “well done” James’ father finally says, and the boy got 12
what he wanted, his father.
“it is finished” for Lily
The gods show up in this epic, but they come to bless.
Her vision “matches struck unexpectedly in the dark” the divisions between
people and countries. Woolf tells us that people are more important. This is
her contribution to literature: that people are more important.
Woolf speaks of “moments being moments” as waves of moment in time and
consciousness—true life—and being in the end.
We may find satisfaction in To the Lighthouse from the defamiliarization of
Waiting for Godot
Even nothing has to be done.
When this play opened in Paris it greatly confused the bourgeoisie, yet in
November of 1957 it was preformed at San Quenten the inmates received it
wholeheartedly, they got it play down to its very core. Why do they relate?
Because it is void of pretense. Laughter and tears dissolve in pretense, they
leave us open.
This is a play where the mother straddles the grave to give birth. We
go to the essence with the poor and the criminal, here rests universal
When Chaplin met with Gandhi,
There is no reversal of fortune, no Oedipus realization, it breaks with
convention, the high tragic character, the low comedic one, tragicomedy a
mix of both. Waiting for Godot mixes the two—
Pondering the meaning of existence.
Aristotle’s representation of action, of plot, the tragedy.
THE UNITY OF ACTION
1. every action occurs not after but “because” ; there must
2. place— represent the location singularly
3. time— single daylight period
Waiting for Godot / Reservoir Dogs
Beckett’s play flouts the spirit of these rules, there is no action | Time is 13
undifferentiated | Place is everywhere | the passage of time doesn’t bring us
to a decision | no deeper knowledge is given or received
Neglect of the important hierarchy: we laugh at comedy, we stand
above those depicted | Tragedy demands that the hero is superior, but the
audience/reader knows more | dramatic irony | Waiting for Godot refuses to
play by these rules | we don’t feel above these two | we don’t even know |
the audience is denied this pleasure
Abandoning the language of English Literature free’d him from style.
Consciously forgetting the past.
The cultural memory loss pg 4-5; the Bible forgets, the bible. The bible
has been forgotten. It’s just a bunch of pretty maps.
Western art typically adores the setting sun—here it is just an
opportunity for a performance: Did I help you pass the time? Playing
games to fill the time.
John Cage. Silence
There is never anything inside the hat.
Some critics need to talk about the absence of god, but really a more general
symbol can be taken for Godot. Society, the outside of it | They wait for
Godot; they wait for any belief system that promises an answer. In Gaelic,
Godot means “forever”
“Habit in is ballast that chains the dog to its vomit”
reconciliation is the purpose of the comedy | the boys stand back to back, as
Are we to see a link to Camus’ myth of sisyphus: the eternal rock pushing of
Sisyphus in recognition of the absurdity of life? Or Sartre’s existentialism?
But Waiting for Godot doesn’t share the hope that existentialism does. The
boys just wait.
[The Leash around Lucky’s Neck]
Two thieves: St. Augustine says: don’t presume one of the thieves is
doomed and the other saved my dear friend. Sartre tells us that the thieves
choose to be up there.
This is just a story to pass the time— of no relevance. The boys don’t
have St. Augustine’s faith nor Sartre’s understanding. These boys just wait it
out and survive 14
What changes there are in the human body: what changes in the
A slippery thesis statement:
Beckett represents the passage of time as painful,
cruel, and reciprocal, but it is the main characters’
inaction and failure to recognize the function of their
environment, that illustrates their sedentary
perception of it.
Things Fall Apart
The beginning of post-colonial literature. Achebe doesn’t accept this claim.
A form of literary resistance | provided an imaginary space; to go on to a
different political space | changed the way we see our world.
The continual falling apart of “things” and the protest against them:
The colonial power and a man who kills himself because he can’t live under
it. And here we are, in Iboland. 1860’s, southern Nigeria.
The role of the other: the ying/yang, defining contrast. We see the
existence of a culture before white contact. We see a demonstration of
greater knowledge and credibility; Achebe reads Joyce Cary, whose
representation and story (Mister Johnson) he thought was “superficial” and
feels he can write about what he knows.
Achebe’s novel and waiting for Godot are the products of WWII .
Things Fall Apart dismantles the myth of white superiority. And he
wrote it for an Africa that was starting to hold itself up. Yet we all judge
foreign actions by our standards, so Achebe spends a great deal of the
novel informing his reading of what is required to understand the practices
of his land, he teaches us the culture so we possess the tools to understand
the plot, the character’s actions. We have to judge Okonkwo on Ibo terms.
Only the context in unfamiliar; the form we know. It is the
appropriation of the western form of tragedy | Things Fall Apart is a
Tragedy. Okonkwo is such a tragic hero, he is one through and through:
huge amount of hubris | the harmartia of the tragedy pg13. He “ruled his
household with a heavy hand”
There is heavy use of simile to get us used to seeing Iboland. These
forms we recognize. We know the shape of a stop sign even if we can’t
read the words within it.
The locusts come, but are not biblical. They are bountiful eats. Similar
proverbs on pg 7. The familiarity of proverbs unsettles the European
attitude that there are for good. 15
African Cool. What are we saying here about gold bracelets and hubcaps,
the collective stability of “cool” The tribal leaders have gold mouth guards,
the African kings have umbrellas held over them…to keep them cool. |
COOL masks of composure | Ibo culture is the restoration of cool. African
“cool” is composed under language. “hipi” “dega” dig—to understand.
“javi” jive | here is the central vocabulary of the African American language
from the western African patois. See An Aesthetic of Cool Robert Farris
Okonkwo is not cool; he is a roaring flame. This shows a
knowledgeable subtleties for the African reader.
Achebe’s repurposing of the tragedy is not unlike Jim Logan, Edward
Poitras, Robert Houle, Kent Monkman and other First Nations artists who
counter-appropriate western canonical artworks with indigenous
representations. In doing this they “critique the west’s disregard for First
Nations histories in North America, Art History’s past failures to classify
their art objects as Fine Art, and contemporary cultural constructions of
“Indianness” originating from colonial history and ideologies about the
“Vanishing Race”” (Froschauer. Contemporary Aboriginal Artists and
Strategies of Counter-appropriation).
Oedipus Rex | Things Fall Apart
The poetry! The boy converts because of poetry!
Experience another world on its own terms.
When Humbert rapes Lolita he rapes America. He is pan-European— she, all
Fixing and documenting the world was not his aim. Inventing it was/is. The
surface texture is just what the critic says it is: three transparent
chessboards on which grandmasters play.
Annabel Lee 1850, Poe— the ultimate source [the girl who sits beside
me loves this, she can’t get enough: panting and holding her heart at the
name “Poe”] It makes a particular kind of story, a particular kind of tale.
Modernized: American Beauty’s Lester Burnham is an anagram for
Department stores are mythological places, sirens call you to come 16
and buy pg 108.
Coincidence is rife, in every action. The house burning down, 342
popping up again and again. This is fiction folks, it is a plotted world, a
parody of Freud and their love of coincidences. We are reminded again and
again that it is fiction. Causality is the essence of realism. The Knight goes
out on a quest, not to show off to his woman, but to hide her.
Humbert is not concerned with sex [of course he is] but he is
fascinated by something else: art. Nymphet love, beautiful things, ugly
things. He describes the grotesque in beautiful language. Sex is the ansila
of art: art makes Humbert’s pedophilia possible. It is his strongly attuned
sense of the aesthetic that, in his mind, justifies his morbid sexuality.
The Epitome of Beauty | The Young Girl
Peter Lamborn Wilson / William S. Burrows (the young boy)
The dream road-trip of 1950’s America and here we learn that satire is a
lesson and parody is a game. A game you can play forever. But this is
parody and pathos at the same time.
The book was rejected in the US; France, of course accepted it. But it
was never “banned” in the US, but it was in Canada. A secret list of
prohibited books existed | Canadian social chaperones hard at work. The
library restricted it until 1958, when it circulated legally. It was said to be
written child pornography, to advocated it, and act as the dominating
characteristic. But Artistic free-speech: Bill C-12 changed artistic free
speech. Merit changed again by Paul Martin with Bill C-2: 2005. [a greater
legal synthesis is required here, our understanding on this matter in not as
pressing in these moments.] Most readers try to answer the moral good.
This is an answer Nabokov doesn’t answer with anything other than
-Reading Lolita in Teheran
George Steiner Essay of 1966—a post-holocaust perspective?
Art is perhaps bad for us; that would mean that it is not good. The many
Shakespearian production in Germany in 1936 are mentioned in connection
Then, art as aesthetic bliss, or merit for education. But we judge art
based on its usefulness in our late capitalist society. We are drawn to the
inky divide between what is grotesque and what is beautiful. Art should not
carry the burden of being good for us. We must do that ourselves.
Kingwell: “As it Were???[more information needed, well the quote is 17
Some style you know instantly. When you add the inessential to what you
have mastered, you invoke style. The reasons of style are away from the
words of a language that are not your own. Beckett went to French and
found there, the voice, the style he needed Joyce had already added
everything that could be added to the English language. Beckett took
everything away by using French. Nabokov, did the same with English—Not
his mother tongue.
The moment the story stops, she is dead. Humbert writes on. She
does not love him back—love is truly mutual—this is not crime in that
regard. The crime is obvious.
The real Our encounters with this novel, how we see it, how we interact
with it, is not fiction. It
Crime it is always real. Pathos and Parody in the same sentence,
Markings on butterflies are not entirely explained by evolution.
The fame of the girl far exceeds that of the book: The Lolita daycare on
Dundas; Lolita fashion in Japan.
An ape, taught to draw, illustrates his cage as his first drawing. This is the
original inspiration for the book. “Dolores”: Latin for suffer, for pain. Lolita’s
The artists duty is to remain aloof of their time, but apparently draw from
the traditions of those past.
Sexual Behavior in theHuman Male
But after the Kinsey report, the scientification of sex (“Let’s put a
number on it”) made parents and educators were to be responsible? Well
some took the charge, as they always had I’d say. The publications
astounded the general public. They challenged the beliefs about sexuality
and discussed a subject that was taboo. Kinsey weighed his need for honest
answers on such a subject against the likelihood that the pedophile’s
crimes would continue.
Nabokov heavily researched. He rode on the backs of school buses to
gain insight into the lives of young girls. He made a long list of clothing
sizes, motels; a height and weight chart so he could accurately show the
size of Lolita’s garments as she grew.
We live in a culture that tells us that youth is the epitome of beauty.
And it’s illegal. Britney Spears’ advertisements asking us if “we dare”. We
work hard at fighting pedophilia because we work hard at selling youth.
Nabokov calls us Brother. We all look, and there is the commonality of us, 18
inside of us |Look | To fantasize, and to watch the thoughts come up, and
watch them pass away. Humbert Humbert acts. And he is a crook. Arrest
me for I am a thought criminal.
The Leaf Storm and Other Stories
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
What do we think of these stories when we consider Marquez the Socialist?
The influence of post-Marxist thought is not considered here, in our grand
Global North; it is not considered at all excepting grad-schools and really
have no barring on us as we live in our “western” society, but in Latin
America, it is life.
Post-Marxism refers to extrapolations of philosophers and social theorists
basing their postulations upon Karl Marx's writings and Marxism proper, thus,
passing orthodox Marxism. Philosophically, post-Marxism counters
derivationism and essentialism (e.g. the State is not an instrument that
The Very Old Man with Enormous Wings: Marquez’s ideological spectacles
show us how his literature is the prefect amalgam of Achebe and Nabokov.
With Marquez, we also come to understand magic realism. Magic realists
never let us in. With Woolf we get inside the character’s minds, whereas
the “who” and the “what” is of no concern to the man with enormous
wings. It is reason that does this to the unknown. It restores us to the
child’s mind. We skip over the fact that the man even has wings, just as
those in the story do. We make the unknown fit into our concepts and ideas
how things are in the world. We put things into our boxes. The very old man
with enormous wings is a sailor, a sailor we understand. A sailor doesn’t
have wings, but the characters overlook this. Even by making the Holocaust
a “hell on earth” is making us believe that people who enjoy god can also
gas Jews. Such an act of categorizing things can do this. It is not the
opposite, but the product of humanity.
The priest in the story puts Aristotelian logic on the angel. Let’s not
think about it; lets just manage; lets fit the unknown into concepts that we
do. If the old man doesn’t fit into our boxes, lets kill it, or, lets charge
admission for a spectacle. Buried in the sideshow is what instrumental
reason has failed to address, as long as their distance from it.
We only want to enjoy the spectacle from the safety of our own
homes (G20 Toronto)
Understanding the spider woman is easy. Lets go see her. The very old man
with enormous wings, we don’t get him. He wont dace for us. He wont play.
What the people make of him is the postmodern allegory of the unknown—
frustratingly and excitedly resisting reason and label. Here we have an
imaginative version of the Critique of Reason. The Frankfurt school misses
this; art doesn’t have to have a reason. 19
[side-note: I would also postulate that the Frankfurt School’s total dismissal
of pop culture also misses that necessary cultural evolutions like rock’n’roll
come out of, and are apart of how we come to identify with our society and
The Handsomest Drowned Man in the World reverses colonialism. It
rationalizes strangeness (A quality of magic realism?) They don’t use
reason—they just do. It is almost the opposite of the very old man; instead
of imposing their concepts, they change their own. They attend to the other
as other: How does this relate to the Adorno’s negative dialectics?
The ideological spectacle: to rationalize the strange, to accept the strange.
One thinks that this drown man is Odysseus, who, we know was to meet his
fate by water and not war (after he visits Tiresias of course) and he sails to
the southern hemisphere. The sailors hear the sirens. (to make a direct
reference) The body of the old world shows up and is cleaned.
Missionaries and American business are the results of tragedy in Things Fall
Apart and The Leaf Storm. The man in the village says “look at this mess
we’ve got ourselves into!” Yet the Leaf Storm is a 100 year old parable…a
hundred years closed off…why? Two novels saying the same thing. Neglect
is easier to explain than success, so that is what critics like to explain.
`1oo` years translated into English. Marquez thinks the English trans. of
`1oo years of Solitude is better than the Spanish. It was recreated; it was a
post-colonial novel in a post colonial world; the rucksacker pick of the 70’s;
Marquez’s brink face is what got him to write it. The face of his
grandmother. Horse and Train stand in the Hamilton Art gallery. And like
Marquez’s works, the mundane is magic. Magic realism can do what Parks
and Colwell do separately. Magic realism does not tell reality and fantasy
in different voices. It can’t. In Latin America making reality believable is
hard enough. Blood Red paper drape streetlamps and coups fly in political
gun shots that echo over the heads of the People who believe in the power
within themselves. Explain that to the global north. Kafka tried. Macondo
gives this. But the critic remains that magic realism reduces Latin America
to the Banana Republic, the land of sombrero wearing dudes on dusty
The parallels between the author himself and Blacaman are great.
Blacaman’s face is what takes him on. The same face that Marquez had to
learn. Lying with a straight face is the art of telling a good story, or writing
A critique of reason: epistemological doubt in the 20